Saturday, October 3, 2015

Friendship In Bloom

Today I am sharing my cute little "Friendship In Bloom" design - this small complimentary design is available exclusively to members of The Samplerlife (a Yahoo! Group and Facebook Group) that I have been a member of for many years. The Samplerlife is a large online group dedicated to the needlework sampler lover in all stitchers - members share a love for historic, reproduction, and new samplers. It is basically a forum for all things needlework sampler related...and of course, a place to enable and be enabled. This year, the lovely Ina (admin of the group) organized a designer stitch-a-long exclusive to members of The Samplerlife - the SAL started in January and 25 designers provided a 50 x 50 square design. Some members are stitching each design separately, while others have chosen to do all the designs on one piece of fabric with a stitched border - it is quite fun to see the in-progress photos! This month, my "Friendship in Bloom" design is being featured and I can't wait to see how it fits in with the designs everyone has stitched so far. I designed my piece with gift-giving in mind - I actually made my stitched piece into a pincushion and then gifted it to my very dear friend Robin (I thought the little stitched robins made it a perfect gift for her!). My model was stitched with Weeks Dye Works threads (DMC conversions are provided) on 35-count Angel Hair linen from Weeks Dye Works, which made it the perfect size for a pincushion. I used coordinating fabrics when finishing and added a yellow ribbon/bow to make it cheerful.

If you are stitching this design, I would love to see your finish...and if you are not a member, but would like to join, there is still time...
Visit The Samplerlife Yahoo! Group here:
Visit The Samplerlife Facebook Group here:
Once your membership is approved, there are directions posted on how to get signed up for the SAL. Designers that generously put together a square for the stitchalong include: Tams Creations, The Primitive Jewel, Little House Needlework, Tempting Tangles, Faby Reilly, Wendy KC Designs, Janie Hubble, HAED,  Thea Gouverneur, Dames of the Needle, Rosewood Manor, Paula Kelmscott Designs, Jardin Prive, AuryTM-Designs, Kooler Design Studio...that is to name a few - there are more!

If you are new to Blue Ribbon Designs or are looking for other small designs, visit my website to see my complete catalog (and you'll find a handful complimentary patterns as well!)...

Friday, October 2, 2015

Autumn In Iowa

Can you believe autumn is upon us already?? - I feel like the months are rushing by...pretty soon it will be Halloween...then Thanksgiving...and then (dare I say) Christmas...whew - where does the time go?! Signs of fall are everywhere here in Iowa - the tree leaves are turning lovely colors (I've already had to rake my front yard) and I am hoping sweatshirt weather is here to stay for a, there have been a plethora of autumn projects on my to-do table lately - which is perfect, as I really like working with fall fabrics. One of my most recent projects is a quilted table runner tutorial (titled "Autumn in Iowa") that I designed and created for the AccuQuilt can find my guest post/tutorial with all the details here:

For this project, I used my AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter and these four AccuQuilt GO! cutting dies:

After using a blanket stitch to machine appliqué each of the leaves on a base block, I used a straight stitch on my machine to create all the leaf veins and can read about this step on the AccuQuilt Blog and see close-ups and the backs of my leaf blocks. I stitched them freely and organically (it was quite enjoyable) or you could draw lines to follow...or you may choose not to have stems and veins.

My runner is 24″ x 48″, but you could easily be adapt the size to your needs by changing the number of blocks per row…or simply by adjusting the number of rows.

The tutorial for my design includes fabric amounts, instructions, and additional photos...that way, you can make one of your very own! Stop by the AccuQuilt Blog and check out my guest blog post for all the specifics:

...and be sure to check out all the guest blogger tutorials happening this month - each one is full of creativity! For a list of contributors and links to their blogs, see my earlier post here:
My next AccuQuilt guest blogger post and tutorial will be in November...and it will be another holiday is already in the works!

For now, it's back to my daily to-do list - I finished up 72 quilt blocks this week (a very large project, which is why today's post is a couple days later than anticipated) and I am on to three more GO! Talk to the Animals quilts and a pile of custom projects, plus some model stitching and know me - there is always something creative happening in the Blue Ribbon Designs studio!

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Pink Update

It's been a while since I posted a "walking update" and photos from my daily outings, so I thought I would share some of my favorite recent images today. The Komen 3-Day event in Dallas is taking place in 39 days and I have been getting in quite a bit of training...and I have been logging some BIG mileage. I am currently breaking in two fancy new pairs of shoes...and gathering the last of the gear I need for the 60-mile walk this year. I want to thank everyone who as of this post has made a donation to support me and make a difference. Together, (so far) we have raised 47% of my fundraising goal - almost $3,600  for breast cancer research, scientific programs, and community-based breast health and education programs. I am so very grateful for your love, encouragement, and generous support! If you haven't had a chance to make a donation yet, there is still plenty of time...and I would LOVE to reach my goal this year - please check out my fundraising page: - every and any amount helps!

...and if you are a needleworker, be sure to check out the details for my 2015 fundraising design titled "Pink Positive" - 100% of the proceeds benefit the Komen 3-Day - you can read all about it here:
or here:

"Pink Positive"

So now, take a photo walk with me - I see beautiful things on each and every training walk....

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Meet the Team

Things have been humming along in the Blue Ribbon Designs studio and as usual I have a plethora of projects in the works...including one HUGE job that includes 72 quilt blocks (yes, I said 72...and yes, my work space looks like complete *organized* chaos!). Last week I finished a seasonal project and tutorial for the AccuQuilt Blog, which will be posted on September 30th...and I will be back to share more with you on Wednesday (it will be worth the wait)...

Recently, AccuQuilt assembled a group of 12 bloggers for their official AccuQuilt Guest Blogger Team and I made the list, along with 11 other amazingly talented sewists/quilters/designers. This month, our assignment was a holiday project tutorial...and the creative posts will start this week. I chose to work on an autumn/Thanksgiving piece using the large Rustling Leaves dies...and the photo in the upper left gives you just a hint...

I wanted to give you a chance to get familiar with the other 11 members of the AccuQuilt Guest Blogger Team - their impressive blogs are all full of fabulous inspiration (I follow each and every one of them) take a few minutes and visit these links - you won't be disappointed....

Be sure to watch the AccuQuilt Blog in the coming weeks for all 12 project tutorials!

For now, I leave you with a little sneak peek of a photo from my upcoming post...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


My copies of the Just CrossStitch 2015 Special Christmas Ornament Issue arrived last week, and I am pleased to share my contribution to the magazine with you. My ornament is titled "Snowmates" and can be found on page 20...and this year, I included my recipe (actually my grandmother's recipe) for Neine's Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies (which I will also share later in this pre-holiday post). My 2015 ornament features two adorable snowmen and complements my woodland ornaments from the past several years - and as usual, combines cross stitch over both one and two linen threads. I stitched the model on 40-count Mocha linen from Weeks Dye Works (same as previous ornaments in this series) and used Weeks Dye Works cotton floss (DMC conversions are provided). I opted for a flat-finish with two-tone cord as an embellishment....and as a little finishing tip for those of you using the 40-count linen - I used standard hotel room keys padded with cotton batting (or you could use fake or expired credit cards) instead of the padded mounting board that the magazine suggests...they are the perfect size! promised, I will now share my grandmother's recipe for one of my very favorite cookies! As a child, one of my favorite holiday traditions was baking and decorating Christmas cookies with my mother and sister. Spending a day in the kitchen baking well-loved holiday sweets was always a special treat. This family recipe for molasses cookies is a personal favorite that will make your kitchen and home smell divine.

Neine's Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies

¾ shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
5 tablespoons molasses
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon each: cloves, cinnamon, ginger

Blend together shortening and sugar; beat in egg and molasses. Sift together flour, baking soda, and spices; combine with butter mixture. Form into balls and roll in sugar. Place on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet and bake in a 350° oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

I hope you make a little time to stitch, bake, and/or create this week...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Nancy Zieman's Fall Table Runner Challenge

Those of you who follow my blog regularly may remember (last spring) when I entered Nancy Zieman's Pillow Challenge and your votes helped me win first prize...well, a couple weeks ago, I was SUPER excited to see a new challenge was posted...this time for fall table runners. Table runner entries could feature any fall occasion, color palette, or size that fits on a kitchen or dining room table and you could enter up to four different table runners that have been sewn within the last year.  We all know how much sewing and quilting I get, of course I entered the maximum of four projects by uploading photos and details on the Nancy Zieman blog with a chance to win some FABULOUS prizes!!

I hope you will support my entries by truly only takes a second - you don't have to register - all you have to do is find my four images on the voting page (they are shown randomly)  and click on the "heart" in the top right-hand corner of each one - it is that easy - and you can cast up to FIVE unique votes (which means you could vote one time for each of my entries) during the voting period! Here are the images/titles of my entries:

Harvest Home

Pumpkins and Spice

Halloween at the Cabin

Pick of the Patch Table Runner

There are MANY wonderful entries that deserve your votes, but I hope you will take a moment and vote for my four table runners (click on the title below the image above for individual details and more images). Here are the simple voting instructions:
  1. Visit:
  2. Find the images of my table runners shown above (they are in random order on the voting page).
  3. Simply click the "heart" in the upper right hand corner of your favorite thumbnail image(s) to cast your vote (I hope you will vote for each of my four entries).
  4. You may vote for up-to five different entries.
  5. Voting is open September 15th - 19th.
Thank you so much for taking a few minutes to vote for my entries! While you are visiting the voting page, I am sure you will be inspired - there are tons of images showcasing a wide variety of skills!

About Nancy Zieman:
I'm sure most of my visitors are familiar with Nancy Zieman - she is the host and driving force behind the popular sewing program "Sewing With Nancy" (the longest running sewing program on North American television)...she is also an author, designer, and founder of  Nancy's Notions, a direct mail company specializing in sewing notions, supplies, and accessories. I am one of many that grew up watching Nancy on PBS, learning sewing skills and techniques from her extensive catalog of Sewing With Nancy programs...her books are in my collection...her catalog is one of my favorites...her sewing notions are in my studio...and her blog is in my daily reader...I am a fan!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

"Pink Positive"
My 2015 Komen 3-Day Fundraising Design

"Pink Positive"
As many of you know, I am participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day this November – I'll (once again) walk 60-miles in Dallas, TX over the course of three days with my fabulous Twinkle Toes team members and hundreds of other women and men....all of us with a common goal to raise funds for breast cancer research, scientific programs and community-based breast health and education programs. I have already logged countless training miles in preparation for the event this year...and I plan to take every single step of the 60-miles in three days again this fall! My AMAZING friends, family, and fans continue to be so extremely supportive and generous and I am hoping you will feel moved to make a donation again this year. All walkers are required to raise at least $2300.00 to participate...but my goal is actually quite a bit higher at $7,500 (and one year I really want to break the $10,000 mark!)...and I know it seems outrageous, but I believe it is totally doable...

So, here is where my new "pink" Cross Stitch design "Pink Positive" comes into is an exclusive Blue Ribbon Design, available only to those who donate a minimum of $15.00 (USD) to my fundraising page (all proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen 3-Day) gift to you for supporting me and this incredibly worthwhile cause.

First I will tell you how to get this very special design...please read the instructions carefully:
  1. Visit my fundraising page:
  2. Make a minimum donation of $15.00 or more - yes, it is tax deductible.
  3. Send me an e-mail  (designer @ or Facebook message with "Pink Positive" in the subject line . The body of the message can be as simple as "I made a donation".
  4. I will verify your donation and reply to your message with a PDF attachment of the design. It's that easy!

    NOTE: If you are overseas and have difficulty with the Komen website or making your donation, you may send your donation to me via PayPal (same e-mail address as above) and note in the comments it is a Komen donation for "Pink Positive" and anything special you would like noted on the Fundraising Honor Roll - I will make the donation on your behalf (in your name) and send you the chart as a thank you. E-mail me for more details or with questions.
If you made a donation before I posted this information, I have already sent the design to you (to the e-mail you listed when you made a donation) - you are not required to make an additional donation. If you have not received it, please check your spam and/or trash folder - if it is not there, just send me a message and I will get you taken care of promptly.

Please note, it is not feasible for me to sit at the computer all day and respond immediately - please give me 24-hours to reply to your message - I promise to respond to your e-mail as soon as possible. If you haven't heard from me within a couple days, please check your spam/junk folder (remember, this is a large quality file), then, if still needed, follow up with me. Also, this gift is only available as a PDF file via e-mail, following the instructions above - I will not be mailing printed charts.

About this exclusive design:
"Pink Positive" is a needlework sampler that was finished into a quilted wall hanging,  along with a coordination pin pillow. The PDF chartpack is set-up like all my printed Blue Ribbon Designs and includes: a color photo, charting for the entire sampler, stitching instructions, stitch diagrams, basic finishing instructions, enlarged charts, and an alphabet/numbers for personalization - it is a high quality file. You will need Adobe Reader to view/print the e-mailed chart and contents.

"Pink Positive" is one of my signature samplers and each individual box design works well on it's own and/or can be used for a needlework small of your choice. In case you haven't figured it out, the title is a play on words...instead of "think positive" (referring to the charted words), I thought "pink positive" fit perfectly!

The entire design is worked in Cross Stitch over-two linen threads (or one Aida fabric square) and Back Stitch, with a few Smyrna Cross Stitches and a few Cross Stitch over-one stitches (minimal). The model was stitched on 35-count hand-dyed fabric (Linen by Weeks Dye Works) with Weeks Dye Works cotton floss...and a DMC conversion is provided. Floss colors include: Bluecoat Blue, Blue Spruce, Buttercup, Chestnut, Curry, Clockwork, Deep Sea, Emma's Pink, Ivy, Liberty, Molasses, Peoria Purple, and Tiger's Eye.

One more thing, please remember: "Pink Positive" is protected by copyright law and is meant for personal stitching only by the donating recipient. I kindly ask, please do not share, email, or post the PDF file on the Internet; if your friend(s) would like to stitch this design, please encourage them to visit my fundraising page ( and make a donation to the cause...after-all, ALL proceeds are benefiting the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. Thank you for respecting my copyright.

Finally - please help me spread the word...if you like the design or think your friend(s) would like it, please share a link to this post on your blog, Facebook, message boards, or other social media...I would really appreciate it!

...and one more thing...a very special thank you to my dear friend that stitched and finished the fabulous pin pillow for this special project! It is not easy for me to give up any part of the design process, but you stepped in (didn't really give me a choice) and said you would take care of it...and that was just one less thing I had to worry about. I truly appreciate your friendship, love, and commitment. xoxo

So, I am off to visit my mother in Illinois first thing tomorrow morning and will be out of my office for a few days (returning on Tuesday)...I will have limited communication and will do my best to e-mail donor charts while I am away - please be patient. I plan to spend some quality time with my family - I need a little rest and relaxation...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Rustling Leaves and Pretty Pumpkins

I'm taking a short break from a sewing/piecing marathon that started early this morning and I thought I would check in with a new blog post. Things are a little crazier than usual in my studio, so I thought I while I had a brief moment, I would use it share a couple more autumn/Thanksgiving projects I recently designed/created for AccuQuilt.

The first is the GO! Quilted Leaves and Logs Wall Hanging. This project measures 40" x 40" and combines the GO! Log Cabin-12" Finished Square by Leslie Main (55349) and the GO! Rustling Leaves dies (55389, 55390, 55391, 55392)....along with beautiful digital embroidery by V-Stitch Designs. You can find these V-Stitch machine embroidery design sets (and many more) on the AccuQuilt website or visit the V-Stitch Designs Etsy shop. The fabrics I used for the Log Cabin blocks are Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Solids and the embroidered leaves use a variety of autumn colored prints. You can find all the details included with the pattern...which for a limited time is available for FREE on the AccuQuilt website - simply visit the following link for downloading instructions:

Next up - the GO! Pick of the Patch Table Runner...a lovely autumn runner featuring machine embroidery and simple borders/cornerstones. It measures 18.5" x 57" and would be perfect for a Thanksgiving table setting. The fabrics are from the Shades of Autumn collection by Dan Morris for RJR Fabrics...and although RJR Fabrics sent me a substitution fabric that was not my original choice for this design, it seemed to work okay (the wide outer border print was supposed to be a smaller print fabric with autumn leaves - I think the larger print pumpkins are too traditional with the machine embroidered pumpkins, but that is just my personal opinion - I have to work with what is supplied). Again, for this pattern, the pumpkins were machine embroidered using digitized embroidery designs by V-Stitch Designs....and as always, you can find these V-Stitch machine embroidery design sets (and many more) on the AccuQuilt website or visit the V-Stitch Designs Etsy shop. This pattern uses the following GO! Dies:
...and again, for a limited time, you can find the pattern for FREE on the AccuQuilt website - simply visit the following link for all the details:

For now, I must get back to I am working on a HUGE project that includes 72 quilt blocks (yes, I said 72 quilt blocks) - I also have five large customer projects on the to-do table, three more of my GO! Talk to the Animals quilts to make, two sets of class lesson plans and presentations to write, four quilt blocks that need patterns/samples, a special upcoming project tutorial and model to prepare...and in my spare time I am finishing this year's Komen 3-Day fundraising cross stitch design (I only have one section left!)...and I am going out of town next weekend to visit my mom at the is going to be an insane, but creative week/month!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Let's Talk Turkey

Lately I have been crushing on Dresden Plate quilt blocks and projects...both pointed and rounded versions...there is something so vintage about them, yet they can be made to look completely modern, simply by changing the fabric and the layout. I love seeing plate designs worked in bright, cheerful, modern prints...however, today I am sharing a unique twist with you using lovely autumn batiks! This is one of my newest design creations for AccuQuilt - a set of GO! Let's Talk Turkey Placemats...don't they just make you smile?? These placemats are designed around using half of a Dresden Plate block for the fan of the turkey...and I had so much fun creating them!

All of the pieces/shapes were cut with my AccuQuilt GO! Big Fabric Cutter using the following six dies:
...and I used gorgeous fabrics from Island Batik - don't they work perfectly for these Thanksgiving placemats?!

The fan, body, and neck/head of the turkey are all cut from the GO! Dresden Plates (55071) die...and I used the GO! Holiday Accessories (55321) die to cut the feet and beak. I cut teeny tiny fabric circles for the eyes, but you could hand stitch French Knots...or use tiny buttons...or use a specialty machine stitch - I think tiny buttons would be extra cute (but may not work well if you use them for placemats - your plate may tilt a bit). I used a blanket stitch with transparent thread to machine appliqué all the shapes in place.

I thought using these turkeys on a table runner would be fabulous, as well...maybe one turkey on each end with simple patchwork in between...hmmm - another idea for my "spare time"...

If you would like to try making a set of GO! Let's Talk Turkey Placemats, you can find the pattern FREE for a limited time on the AccuQuilt website...simply visit:

If you are new to Dresden Plate designs, this is a great way to get started! I hope you will try this pattern out...and if you do, please be sure to share your turkey project photos with me...

Check back soon for more seasonal ideas...I have more fun things to share...